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How to Keep Things Minimal and Organized Over the Holidays

For many, Christmas is the most anticipated holiday of the year: spending precious time with family and friends, taking part in holiday traditions, decorating your home to bring the festive season to life, exchanging gifts, and feasting on your family’s favorite meals.

Although the holidays can bring a lot of joy, they can also bring a lot of stress. Here are some helpful tips you can follow, as well as some eco- and budget-friendly ways to stay on track, to help ensure you have a smooth and peaceful holiday season.

Plan ahead

Food brings family together - especially during the holidays. By planning a few things ahead of time, stress and last-minute rushing can be avoided:

Hosting a holiday dinner? Get organized a few weeks prior; write out your guest list, what you will make, and how much of everything you need. To be cost-effective, plan a budget and stick to it (or as closely as you can). If preparing specialty dishes, purchase the ingredients that may be hard to find in advance or that tend to sell out quickly at the specialty grocery. Still feel like you have too much on your plate? Don’t forget that you have helping hands at home! The kids can help with holiday dinner planning and preparation. 

A great alternative to hosting a holiday dinner is hosting a holiday potluck instead where each guest brings a specific dish. Potlucks can save you a lot of time and are budget-friendly. Give each guest a cap to spend on their dish so one guest isn’t spending more than another. To avoid confusion about who’s bringing what and duplicates of the same dish, assign each guest a certain dish to bring to the potluck. That way, all your bases are covered, and you won’t be left serving your guests chips, ice, store-bought potato salad, and cutlery. If enjoying alcohol responsibly at your potluck, go with BYOB or BYOW (alcohol is pricey). Alternatively, serve a delicious, spirited punch! 

Eco- and budget-friendly décor and gift ideas

There are many ways to celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank. Here are some excellent ideas:

Add a personal touch to your gifts by creating them yourself. Some ideas are homemade treats or jams, hot chocolate mixes, customized baskets containing a person’s favorite things. If you are crafty, handmade items such as knitted toques, mittens, one-of-a-kind Christmas stockings for kids, baby blankets, or handmade soaps or bath fizzies are thoughtful gifts and are always appreciated!

Save and reuse gift bags. If you prefer using wrapping paper, consider Kraft Paper, which can be easily recycled afterward (or reused as packing paper for moving), as not all conventional wrapping paper can be recycled, especially if it contains glitter or foil. Wrapping your gifts in reusable fabric is a great eco-friendly idea, too!

Use Washi tape instead of regular tape. Washi Tape is biodegradable, comes in a variety of colors and designs, and can be reused. Tape a cutting of pine, berries, or a cinnamon stick onto your gift, and tie twine around it for a gorgeous, natural touch. (This will also add a lovely aroma to your gift!)

Go natural! DIY or shop local markets to decorate your home with items, such as handmade wreaths, wooden slabs to use as coasters or serving trays; plants or trees, such as mini pines, Poinsettias, Christmas cactus, or pinecones. Nature-inspired holiday decorations add a unique, rustic element to your space.

Suggest doing a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange with friends, family, or co-workers. Gift buying can put a lot of pressure on people, so this is a great alternative and fun to do! Collectively, come up with a suitable price that gifts should not exceed.

Minimize the clutter over the holidays

Here are some simple ways to keep things organized:

  • Keep your holiday décor neatly organized and stored all together, if possible. Sort items into labelled containers by category: lights, ornaments, figurines, stockings, etc.

  • Go through your inventory yearly to see if there is anything you can declutter, such as extra lights, ornaments, etc. If you decide to purchase a new artificial tree, consider donating your old one and any additional holiday items you no longer use to a family in need or a local organization.

  • By following a ‘less-is-more’ approach when decorating, you can create a calming overall feel. Christmas trees are more visually appealing when ornaments are spaced evenly apart, and not overly decorated.

  • Choose a simple color scheme to use throughout your home while decorating, which can help to achieve a cohesive look.

  • When it comes to regifting items, many people feel guilty about doing so, but in my opinion, there is no need to. If it is something you won’t be using anytime soon, it’s in great condition, and someone else could be enjoying it, then pass it along or donate it to a local organization.

  • Christmas cards can pile up over the years, and some people have a hard time parting with them, but you don’t need to feel obligated to keep them! They can take up valuable space and you likely won’t reference them often - if ever again. Keep any meaningful or sentimental ones and recycle or repurpose the rest. Standard paper ones can be recycled, but ones with glitter or embellishments cannot. Instead, these can be reused for kids’ crafts, scrapbooking, or get creative by cutting, pasting, and turning them into new cards!

The holidays should be an enjoyable, relaxing time, so leave out the stress and worry this year, and focus on the true meaning of the holidays: being present with your loved ones!

Lisa is a Trained Professional Organizer. She recently started her own Professional Organizing Company and has a personal blog on Instagram called Light at The End of The Clutter. For more information, visit



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